Why Does ”Participatory” Make me Shiver? Proposing a Decolonial Practice for Participatory Work

Marika Hedemyr


Colonial practices often come unnoticed with participatory projects that involve people, places and economics. There are complex power structures involved, and nuances of ethics at play. But how to address this complexity in a constructive manner? By explicitly drawing on a convergence between the challenges addressed by participatory art and participatory design, I propose a postcolonial perspective as a valuable critical practice for understanding the dynamic power structures in participatory projects. In order to decolonise a participatory project I suggest a set of concrete questions that can be asked regularly. To be the killjoy that points to the less flattering aspects of a project is never an easy position to take. But it may be necessary if the field of art and design is to raise its awareness and contribute to an ethical change.

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